SPAK's investigations "hit" consumption as well/ Bar-Restaurant Association: Out of fear informal people do not go out to spend

2023-11-24 07:38:28, Ekonomi CNA

SPAK's investigations "hit" consumption as well/ Bar-Restaurant

The investigations launched by the Special Prosecutor's Office against Corruption and Organized Crime (SPAK) for former high officials, but also exponents of the world of crime, are also affecting the decline in restaurant consumption.

For several months now, the intensification of investigations into a series of organized crime files, and the corruptions associated with the arrest of many individuals has forced both the rich and money launderers to frequent restaurants and bars.

For the representative of the Association of Bars and Restaurants Enri Jahaj, with the end of the wave of tourists, consumption in restaurants and bars has returned to the downward trend.

According to him, a number of factors are affecting the reduction of spending for restaurants, starting from the uncertainty of spending by the family consumer due to economic difficulties and the tendency to save on the eve of the holidays, as well as including the "fear" of being exposed to restaurants to individuals who own dirty money, due to investigations by SPAK.

"Consumption in bars and restaurants is decreasing compared to years.

First, we are facing a crisis that consumers feel insecure about spending.

Second are the long days off for national holidays. Thirdly, we are also on the eve of the end of the year holidays and the consumer has the tendency to save on expenses in bars and restaurants.

Fourthly, those who have money, as well as those who have dirty money in their hands, do not go out to spend anymore, as they do not want to be noticed. They consume away from the attention of people, they consume at home. So it is already a fact that both arms are no longer going out for lunches and dinners in the restaurant, or they go out without being seen by people. Everyone is afraid", says Yahja.

He adds that the attraction of this category is having an impact, due to the fact that it is estimated that they account for 10-15% of the total consumption in bars and restaurants. "This category spends up to 15,000 ALL per person in restaurants."

From the Association of Bars and Restaurants, the concern about the decline in consumption was raised at the beginning of this year due to consumer uncertainty from the increase in prices for food basket products from the Russia-Ukraine conflict. According to the representatives of the association, consumption improved in the local elections of May 14 and continued to increase throughout the summer months from tourists.

There are a total of 15,500 bars in the country, from 22,000 in 2015, being the second most preferred activity in the country, after the minority business. According to the data of the INSTAT business register, in 2021, 854 activities of food and beverage services were closed, with a decrease of 5.2%. referring to INSTAT data, until 2019, 45,000 people were employed in this sector. The number of employees is considered higher, due to informality.

So the investigations launched by SPAK are not only scaring the patrons of bars and restaurants, but also the buyers of apartments in Tirana.

Earlier, real estate market brokers also claimed for Monitor that the investigations are affecting the drop in demand for apartment purchases.

The use of money laundering schemes in the construction and real estate sector has also been encountered by the General Directorate of Prevention of Money Laundering. During 2022, this institution in its annual report published 8 typologies of schemes that have been suspected as forms of money laundering in the country. Most of the typologies were essentially investments in real estate, where there were also suspicions about the use of public funds, suspicious transfers also linked to criminal groups.

Even market experts have often raised the concern that apartment prices, especially for special buildings such as towers, which reach up to 5,000 euros per square meter, are many times higher than the income of Albanian families.

For the first 6 months of 2022, according to data from the Bank of Albania, apartment prices increased 40% more compared to 2021. According to market experts, the high increase was also influenced by the expectations of many builders for the approval of the fiscal amnesty, a draft which has been published several times by the government, but the approval has been opposed by international institutions./ Monitor


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